Cobham Special Mission expands critical aviation base at EF

Cobham Special Mission have been a tenant at Essendon Fields since 2017, however their history with the airport stretches back even further. The company is now expanding into a larger facility within the newly refurbished Stage 2 of the terminal building at Essendon Fields.

The new state-of-the-art operational space, measuring 303 square meters, has been leased on a 5 year term and is just steps from their fleet on the tarmac, allowing them to be up in the air as quickly as possible when deployed.

Image above: Cobham Special Mission’s new tenancy is still a work in progress. Can you spot Nemo in the background?

Cobham base and maintain the most advanced civil search-and-rescue (SAR) aircraft for the Australian Maritime Safety Authority (AMSA) – Bombardier Challenger SAR jets – out of their Essendon Fields location. In total, 36 people are employed at the base, performing search-and-rescue operations over land and sea.

It’s fitting that Cobham are expanding their facilities at Essendon Fields given the company’s rich history with the airport. In 1926, the aviator and company namesake, Alan Cobham, made history when he became the first pilot to complete a return trip from England to Australia. Cobham departed the River Medway, England, on 30 June 1926 in a De Havilland D.H. 50J G-EBFO aircraft. When arriving at Essendon Airport on 15 August 1926 he was greeted by a crowd estimated at 100,000 people – a significant proportion of Melbourne’s population at the time.

Images above: Cobham Special Mission’s new tenancy is almost complete.

Paul McLaughlin, Cobham Special Mission Base Manager at Essendon Fields said the new facility would improve functionality and work-flow, and provide faster access to the jet.

“We essentially needed more space for search-and-rescue stores, training and our crew. This move to a new space, has been completed to such a high building standard and will be far more comfortable for the crews and support the flow of activity,’’ Paul said.

“We also love the new space because it has direct airside access from our operations/briefing room to the aircraft, which is only 30meters away. Especially important when time is critical.’’

“Essendon Fields is traditionally the training base for new observer and pilot aircrew, so we now also have a dedicated training classroom within the new facility which is fantastic,’’ Paul said.

Essendon Fields CEO, Brendan Pihan, congratulated Cobham Special Mission on the move.

“The terminal is a heritage building, steeped in history,” said Mr Pihan of the building, which opened in 1959.

“But buildings change over time, and so often do their uses. As aviation demand has changed and Essendon Fields has continued to evolve it makes sense that buildings like this are repurposed and renewed, and it’s fantastic that we’re able to do alongside a company with their own long-term connection to the Airport. Cobham performs aerial operations that are critical for our state, and as Melbourne’s homebase for emergency services, we’re thrilled to be able to facilitate their important work.”

To learn more about Cobham’s rich history with Essendon Fields Airport, click here.